Great user experience for content sites

Monday, May 12, 2008

At Google, our #1 priority is providing users with rich and useful content in our search results. Here are a few tips on creating a great user experience for your content-rich site.

Provide highly relevant content

Establish a clear focus for your site, and create content that's strongly relevant to that focus. Try not to fill your site with irrelevant content. Once you've chosen your site's subject matter, think about how further categorization could be helpful. For instance, if your site is about baby care, think about grouping your content into categories such as Health care, Diseases, or Education. It's also a good idea to pick a relevant domain name that's easy for your audience to remember.

Create user-friendly navigation and page layout

A good user interface is critical for any website—including Google; it creates a good first impression and is critical to how users navigate your site. If you want to include multimedia elements like Flash in your design, make sure that your pages can still be indexed by Google. Check out our blog post on Best uses of Flash.

Make things easy for your users

For instance, you could provide a search box for your users to search within your site; or show your users a little TLC (Tender Loving Care) by creating a survey on the home page. Some users can't view images or have very slow connections—improve their experiences (and the indexability of your site!) by making sure your images have useful and appropriate alt text.

Provide original content

Your site's users are looking for something unique—content that can't be found elsewhere. When someone enters your site, they might want to see something unique. Copying content from other sites creates a negative user experience (and scraping content can negatively impact your site's ranking in our search results). If you really need to use content from another site, respect copyright and credit the original source (and provide a link). Try to reorganize and augment the content, so that it fits better with your own site's focus and style. If you provide multimedia content such as video or music, text descriptions of these are always useful. It's also smart to consider embedding this content directly on your pages, so users can enjoy it without having to leave your site.

Keep your site well maintained

Getting hacked is a nightmare. Make sure you check your site for any potential security issues on a regular basis. Check out Tips for cleaning and Securing Your Website.

Valid and easy-to-find contact information will help you get direct feedback from your users. If you have a forum or a guest book on your site, better make sure it never be abused by spammers. Check out How to prevent comment spam.